The Prowler

Trump Cannot Meet Nixon’s Standard of Free Press

Noam Haykeen, Student Writer

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The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of The Prowler.

Trump’s entrance to the political arena has caused the words “news media” to become associated with the words “fake news.” Some Americans have come to doubt reliable news outlets. They cannot differentiate fact from fiction. Moreover, there is a phenomenon of people labeling news as fake if it does not help their political stance.

The words of presidential candidates and the president matter. They influence Americans’ thoughts. Since becoming a politician, Trump has not only established a war on the media, but has also discredited government reports that do not enhance his stance.

At his first press conference as president-elect, Trump told a CNN reporter, “You are fake news.” He depicted one of our most dependable news sources as an outlet no one should trust. This has become standard for Trump:  his Twitter feed is filled with the phrase “fake news media.”

During the presidential campaign, Trump called the Labor Department’s estimate for the number of jobs added each month “total fiction” and “phony.” He went as far as saying Americans were living in a “fake economy.” Trump claimed the unemployment rate was as high as 35 percent, while the estimates were around 5. But on March 10, when the Labor Department released its first estimates under the Trump presidency, the White House Press Secretary said Trump now believed the department’s evaluation of 4.7 percent to be true. Trump decided to believe this estimate because it shed a positive light on him.

In September, 2016, a Gallup poll  showed only 14 percent of American Republicans trust the press. This result was 18 percent lower than in 2015. In March, a Pew Research Center poll indicated only half of Republicans believe a free press is “very important for a democracy.” Trump’s effect on America is greater than people realize: Americans are starting to take the First Amendment prohibiting government limitations on the free press for granted.

When Richard Nixon was president he privately said, “the press is the enemy.” He made the media seem like an antagonist, and smeared the First Amendment.

But he did not call the American press “fake.” He did not discredit the news. And unlike Trump, Nixon made those remarks behind close doors.

Trump’s actions are incomparably worse. He publicly diminishes news outlets for revealing the truth. The fact he cannot meet Nixon’s standard is a new low for modern American presidents.

When discussing illegal immigration, Trump remarks that America must follow its laws. He even called himself the “law and order candidate” during his campaign. But when speaking about the media, Trump disregards the First Amendment. Why is one law more important than another?

We can already see that Trump, as the U.S. president, holds the power to impact the country’s opinions effectively. He illustrates that the media, for which American soldiers have died, is not vital for a functioning democracy.

Some countries around the world do not have a free press. Their governments brainwash the people. The U.S. president should therefore lead by example and show the glorifying aspects of a free press.

Americans’ taking their free press for granted is not right. We need a body to hold government officials accountable. The freedom of the press is a critical right that our president is sadly smearing.

 

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Trump Cannot Meet Nixon’s Standard of Free Press